Will a new Facebook “enemy” app become its own worst enemy?

As a society, we equate the number of “friends” or “likes” we collect on our social networks with popularity and status, but how would we feel if we were tagged as an “enemy”? Hurt, confused, insecure, or even threatened?

Unfortunately, our fears may soon be a reality. EnemyGraph, a new free app for Facebook built by graduate students at the University of Texas, allows users to make an “enemy” of their “friends,” public figures, and companies with Facebook pages.

Dean Terry, director of the emerging media program at the university argues that the new app provides balance and that people often bond over their common dislikes.  That’s true, but do we need to promote the term “enemy?” So far, Facebook has resisted the addition of a “dislike” button.

Currently making the top of the “enemy” list are Justin Bieber, Facebook Timeline, racism, MacDonald’s restaurants, and Rush Limbaugh – all fair game we might agree. The numbers using the app are still too low to have any significant impact on reputation, but companies that don’t meet public expectations may have to watch this space in the future.

My concern is not for the public figures and companies who are now more adept at engaging in the social space and responding to negativity, but for individuals. In response to criticism suggesting this is a “bully app,” a statement on the app’s Facebook page offers, “You have to be Facebook friends with someone in order to make them an “enemy.” To our knowledge anyone using this function is doing it in jest.”

Naïve! Try telling that to an emotional teenager who has been publically shunned in front of his or her “friends.” For sure, some will use it in fun, just as they are “married” to their best friends, but there is a fine line between harmless fun and bullying. “Enemy” is a harsh term.

Since the app was launched, it has had several teething problems – with the rising number of negative comments from its users, the app may fast become its own worst “enemy.”

So far, Facebook has not joined the conversation. Perhaps it, too, is hoping the app will self-destruct. What do you think – is this app fair game or will it cause more harm than good?


3 thoughts on “Will a new Facebook “enemy” app become its own worst enemy?

  1. This is all interesting info. I hadn’t heard about this new app until now. Although, must say, I’m not surprised. I think it’s a horrible idea. I can see where it would be used in jest and people would have some kind of obscure fun in using it, but for the most part, I see more bad coming out of it than good. Lately, there’s been this bullying epidemic going on with our children. Probably no more so than it has always been, but thanks to social media, it has had greater exposure and consequences. I’d hate to see this “enemy” app be the cause of another teen suicide. I’m really hoping Facebook is not just waiting for the right time to launch their dislike app (as they have waited in the past for the perfect time to launch socially disapproved Facebook features).

  2. While I agree it could lead to a form of bullying I think this is an example of the market being supplied what it’s been asking for. I have seen many people complain that Facebook doesn’t have a “dislike” button. If there is a “like” button why isn’t there a balance on the other end of the spectrum.? People like to come together over things they like just as much as things they dislike. I do also agree enemy is a harsh word, but the creators have been very forthcoming about why they created the page the purpose behind it. Our society is full of dissenting opinions which is what makes it great because people can freely share their ideas. Bullying is a serious issue and I don’t make light of it but I think we should wait and see where this app goes and if it does in fact self-destruct or give people what they need–the power to come together over what they don’t like.

  3. Alicia,

    I agree that we should be able to bond over our common dislikes, whether it be coffee, music, politics, or brands – that’s what a democratic society is all about. As you point out, the creators have been clear about their motivation and why they chose the name.

    My issue is not with the concept. My concern is with giving young people the ability to change “friends” into “enemies” in full view of their peers. Whether the creators intend the app to be used in this manner, or not, they promote the idea and teenagers will latch on to it. If this feature is disabled, I will agree the app may have some value to society.

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